Avoiding VA benefits overpayments


shadow

Life happens. We are all guilty of procrastinating on paperwork or forgetting to update records. While most of the time there are no consequences, that is often not the case with VA benefits.

There are any number of life events that can result in an overpayment to the VA, and these can result in changes in the amount of benefits you are entitled to receive.

It is important to let VA know whenever there is a change that could impact your benefits. Not keeping these records current can result in an overpayment. When discovered, those funds will be owed to VA, and those can often result in a deduction of the monthly benefit amount until the debt is repaid.

Some common overpayment situations are:

  • A Veteran receives care at a VA medical facility and fails to pay a required co-pay
  • A Veteran fails to report that a school-age child has married
  • A Veteran receiving education benefits drops out of school
  • A Veteran or beneficiary is incarcerated and benefits are reduced or terminated for the period of incarceration
  • The Vocational Rehabilitation program purchased a service or tools for a Veteran, who then dropped out of the program without a good reason
  • A Veteran or beneficiary receiving an income-based pension doesn’t report a change in income
  • A Veteran’s change in marital status without notifying VA
  • Death of a dependent without notifying VA

In some situations, VA receives information from other federal agencies about changes that could impact yours benefit. When this happens, a notice will be sent to the beneficiary explaining that a potential discrepancy was found, with a proposed reduction or discontinuance of benefits. Funds owed to VA are based on the date the event occurred, such as a change in dependents, which would have caused a reduction or discontinuation of benefits.

Beneficiaries who receive an indebtedness notice from VA stating that an overpayment has taken place have 60 days to submit a Notice of Disagreement with evidence stating why the overpayment information is incorrect. It is important to work with VA in this initial notification period before the debt moves to the next level.

After 60 days, if no response is received, the debt is turned over to the VA Debt Management Center for recovery. The center will notify the beneficiaries of the planned recovery method – either through a reduction in benefits, or a payment program. If the debt cannot be resolved, it will be turned over to the Department of the Treasury for forced collection.

In some cases, overpayments can be waived. Work with an accredited Veterans Service Organization representative to assist with the waiver process, or contact VA’s Debt Management Center for a repayment plan at 800-827-0648. Intentional fraud will not be waived.

Veterans and other beneficiaries should check their eBenefits account to make sure the information is correct, and they should report any information that should be updated as soon as possible. This can either be done on the eBenefits web portal, or by calling 800-827-1000.

Author

Donna Stratford

Donna is a public affairs specialist in Veterans Benefits Administration Corporate Communications. She spent most of her career in government public affairs and communications. She recently completed Rating Veterans Service Representative training. Donna is an Air Force Veteran and retired from the Air Force Reserve.

Comments

  1. Mark R Klouda    

    I received a rating increased from 70% to 100%. This resulted in an increase in my benefit amount. At this point the VA sent me a partial payment on that / payment.

    At this point they proposed incompetence rating. Which means back pay is to be withheld until the proposal is decided.

    Now they have have me on a repayment plan on my own money.

    Incidentally they have found me in confidence without giving me a hearing that I requested.

    Can they do this without following their own rules.

    1. Mark R Klouda    

      Should say partial payment on back pay.

      And they didn’t sign me in confidence they found me incompetent.

      Sometimes you don’t get the chance to edit before autocomplete changes your words

  2. Daniel Nightengale    

    I submitted an application in change in status to VA and it took a year and a half to process it. Don’t expect it to be done within a reasonable amount of time….so plan accordingly and don’t spend the overpayments given to you. If you know you are getting overpaid, the VA does too.

    1. Lon G. Dorsey    

      I’ve totally given up. Viet Nam Veteran here. I had the words, “Complains of Hip Problems,” written on my medical
      folder by the DOCTOR in 1964-65. I never got anything for it. Then many years later with degenerative hip problems
      I’m just totally lost. Deny deny deny. I didn’t file again. The VA/Gov has conducted tests on black veterans illegally
      and it’s no wonder people don’t trust the VA. I had a man 4 years ago in a veterans hospital tell me that I needed
      OPEN HEART SURGERY!!! I immediately left there. Four years later, I still have NO heart problems!

  3. Robert Bustamante    

    I was going to victorville college in victorville California. I had to stop going to school to move back to family members homes with my significant other to care for mother till she passed leaving me in a homeless state. Because I could not finish my courses I have to pay back this dept. I am having a hard time trying to survive, every little bit helps. What can I do to solve this matter, and can I get help? Please let me know if there is a way to assistance.

    1. Jervona woods    

      I actually spoke with the VA about over here attention of justifiable reason to why you couldn’t complete the course you can go on the VA education benefits website and file put a waiver request. Call ‭1 (866) 422-4551‬ they can give you a fool break down of what you need to do.

      Hope this helpful

  4. Ellen Grace E Lasconias-Cortinas    

    I was in the same boat as you…on regards to incompetency. Then I wrote the VA asking for an advance because I bought some furniture on Rent to Own. So, I thought that requesting for funds I could pay off in 90 days same as cash than having to pay it off for about two years I could save on interests.

    About a couple of weeks passed by, I followed up on my requests and they decided that I’m competent enough and my retroactive pay all in one lump some… ; ).

  5. Joseph Snyder    

    The Veteran’s Administration is nothing but derelict in the performance of their duties. If you get an over payment they’ll send it to the wrong address, tell you they sent it 6 months later, ignore 6-10 requests for additional information, and citations of their own regulations, and then ignore letters of disagreement and appeals requests that were sent by certified mail. The VA should be ashamed of itself.

  6. Eric b    

    Funny, the list includes only those scenarios that could come from being your own fault. No mention of when the VA screws up how long they get to repay you.

  7. John Porter    

    (redacted) Hello, my name is John Porter, and I served 26 years active duty and retired in 2003. How do I find out if I was not receiving all of my payments or have funds due me?.

    John Porter

  8. Jeffrey gross    

    How do I get in contact with someone, or go about changing my marital status because I have gotten divorced and I thought they already knew about it because I changed it in the Deers system and everything, but now am unsure if it was ever properly resolved and I don’t want to have my pay cut because I rely on that money.

  9. Joe adams    

    My ex-filed divorce EOM MAY13, I forwarded the requested forms after talking to a VA representative. I received a letter that my entitlements would change 3 to 4 months later. When my son turned 18, again I sent the requested forms in Jul 16, receiving a confirmation that my entitlements would change in 3 to 4 months. In May 18, I received a letter that Va was taking back over 5000 dollars due to over payment. I question why am I being punished when it took over 5 years for the VA to acknowledge the over payment and now I am liable. It is ok my brother and sisters deserve that money for their tours and injuries. I was just disappointed.

    1. Greg Burress    

      Joe Adams: did you appeal the decision did you apply for a waiver or payment plan? what results did you get if any if you did any of the listed things?

      1. Joe adams    

        I applied for a waiver plan but denied and had to accept a payment plan to suit my budget. If I wanted my ex to pay the portioned she received I would have had to go back to court and it would have cost more then the remaining balance. I cannot place the full blame on the VA and I take some responsibility in not reviewing, researching, and making sure the over draft was reconciled. I guess it is lesson learn to always follow-up and make sure you receive your correct entitlement

  10. Donald Price    

    I had similar situation with report of divorce and they processed my paperwork but pay kept coming (I received increasing of pay yearly due to 2004 act signed I did not get a breakdown of pay from VA. Like a LES work help prevent this error.) 10 years later I get a $16,000 bill and now paying $500 per month while doing another appeal with Congressional oversite. I have copies where I filed with objective evidence of VA processing and it is in my VA computer records that they maintain. I have ask for three hearing but received no letter or voice communication concerning a hearing with says on their letter you can request.
    And they are still wanting repayment. Congress just a passed a law on medical bills being relieve because of delayed in VA processing paperwork. I hope my case will be relieved in same matter. I did what I was suppose to do in a timely manner. VA has lost millions of dollars and cause undue stress of veterans that tried to do the right thing. Now I’m at the mercy of appeals process with hopefully congressional support. If fails I guess I’ll see if I can get a Presidential letter through the system. Of coarse this came when I turn 62 and trying to make retirement adjustments. More stress due to VA lack of timely processing. Has anyone been successfully when you the Veteran did the right thing.
    P.S I never received another letter with my ex wife name after filing paperwork on it so everything looked in order.

    1. Joe adams    

      I applied for a waiver plan but denied and had to accept a payment plan to suit my budget. If I wanted my ex to pay the portioned she received I would have had to go back to court and it would have cost more then the remaining balance. I cannot place the full blame on the VA and I take some responsibility in not reviewing, researching, and making sure the over draft was reconciled. I guess it is lesson learn to always follow-up and make sure you receive your correct entitlement.

  11. Robert R. Morrison    

    When my wife passed away, It took months for the VA to stop dependency payment. The overpaymant is now coming out of my check.

  12. Lottie Church    

    I am receiving survivor benefits since my husband’s death; monthly check and reduced property taxes. My husband died January, 2015. Are there new rules regarding my benefit status.

  13. Tim Boyajian    

    I had the same thing and I had to pay back. I filed a year late, but they took even longer to change it. What is really needed is forms like applying for change of dependents. I had to pay back $9000 for about 2 years or more back pay. I was ready for it. but they shouldn’t have taken my step daughter off since I fit the criteria. They received my appeal claim and then it disappeared on the system.
    I was fortunate but their system hurts many veterans who have little money left at the end of the month even if they set up a monthly repayment plan.

  14. Gianfranco Hrdliczka    

    Would be nice if the VA picks up the phone.
    When I called the number, to make sure my account was correct, the recording told me that I would have a 1-minute wait.
    It has now been 31 minutes of some spaghetti western hold music on a loop.

  15. Mike Hines    

    So what happens if you get divorced years after separation from service and remarried and have another child after you have been discharged? I am at 50%. Do I get to add my new wife and child and get an increase in benefits?

    1. Dan    

      Yes….you need to submit a change of dependents on ebenefits.gov and upload the appropriate paperwork.

  16. Stephen G. Painter    

    In May of this year I received a letter from VA denying my claim increase back to my previous amount of 80% from 60% , I will regroup and resubmit, but guess what my June disability check never showed up when I called, they said it went to a different account on direct deposit not mine, I had not authorized any changes or requested any chances on the paper work but someone messed up my payment… had been receiving payment for the last ten years to that account. I called the 1-800 line, inquired whose account ? they put a tracer on it, they checked for fraud said it was their error still have not been paid the June payment ….lucky for me the July payment game to the right account , was this punishment for sure for exercising my rights and documenting my issues? sure has the spouse on edge… Will call back again this week this is the fifth call…

  17. DERRICK DIETZ    

    Funny how one can report the changes but VA doesn’t do anything about it for almost 2 years. Then they want their overpayment back. The rep even acknowledged the report was made and documented!

  18. Russell Campbell    

    Okay, call me a bureaucratic dummy, but I was under the impression that I was the one receiving VA benefits, not my ex-spouse or daughter. Last year I get a letter from VA saying they overpaid me and I had no clue what the hell they were talking about. I retired in 2007 and got divorced that same year. I thought my benefits were for me not them. My ex was married to me for only 7 years and receives no retirement benefits as she was active duty herself. As for my daughter, she stopped attending school in 2011 the same year I got re-married. What gives and how come no one briefed me about this scam until now??? WTF Over???? And of course, if you are working overseas, the VA can’t do (redacted) for you.

  19. Terry Binkley    

    I have a little different issue. I was recently awarded 40% service-connected disability retroactive for 1 year. In the notification letter it stated that I was being paid as a single veteran with no dependents. I’m not sure how that was arrived at, because I am married and gave all the pertinent information on my original claim. I immediately notified the VA on their eBenefits website and received a confirmation of the change. Will my compensation be adjusted once the file is corrected? My main concern is that all my information is correct. I don’t want any repercussions later on.

  20. C Watson    

    When is the earliest Montgomery GI Bill education benefits can be requested for a newly enrolled dependent attending an in-state public college?

  21. Greg Williamson    

    I was overpaid on my pension from VA employment for 11yrs. I filed my taxes and never received any notice that my pension would be reduced at times. And, it wasn’t reduced by OPM who’s negligence resulted in overpayment for 11yrs. They tell me the overpayment can be waived if I can show it would cause hardship.(ARE YOU KIDDING ME….AS IF YOU HAVE TO ASK IF A $90,000 DEBT TO A VET LIVING ON A TOTAL DISABLED INCOME. GEESH!!!!) Well they said I had shown that repayment would cause undue hardship due to no fault of my own BUT you guessed it…..they still decided to make me repay it. The LESS-THAN-HONORABLE and worthless in my opinion, Andy (do nothing) Barr and his just as worthless staff (in my opinion) sandbagged me for 1 and 1/2 years while I got stuck with a $90,000 debt. NO HELP FROM NO ONE!!! I have serious doubt that anything the VA or their henchmen/women say is to be taken with a bag of salt.

  22. Screw the VA    

    They will never believe what you say to them. I had a VA worker tell me that they assumed I was still married cause I added another child and that’s why it took them 11 months to confirm I wanted my ex wife off my benefits. When I did the disagreement to pay that 11 months of back pay they said no proof of that. remember they don’t need a degree to work for the VA.

  23. Gary C Krynicki    

    I made a post yesterday. Not sure where it went to. Maybe I was too harsh? We all share the same stories. VA should be looking for ways to help us. I think their goal is to ‘wear us down’ with all the bureaucratic administrative paperwork, rules, and regulations. Reminds me of the Shawshank Redemption movie with Morgan Freeman. After so many years of ‘doing the right thing’, submitting more forms over and over again, your paperwork for parole still gets stamped ‘denied’.
    I’m afraid this blog/forum will fall on deaf ears. We just get the chance to vent with others in the same boat.

  24. Carlos Torres    

    Trying to get some information about VA overpayment while being in the National Guard. Every time I call I get told that my unit has to send paperwork in, but they have no idea what to send in and to who. Who can can I speak to, so I can get some help on this?

    1. Michael Peck    

      Basically it takes the VA 2-3 years to get back pay from the guard over payment unless you tell your unit not to pay you for drills and your 2 weeks. I just finish paying back pay in February 2018 for Drill pay year FY15.

  25. Ann Dixon    

    I had to repay over 5000 dollars for over payment due to getting devorced. Like someone said before you assume the information would trasfer from DEERS. But I have a question. If you are retired from the military they take your disability payment % out of retired pay. Why can’t you get that % back if the VA garnish your pay?

  26. Keith Hankerson    

    It does not matter what you do they will find ways to say there are over payments, I changed status in about5 different on line and in person databases ….4 years later on here comes the VA …..we over paid you due to divorce.
    Now I work full time and can not afford to go sit at the VA for hours to attempt a conversation with the DAV in Fort Worh so the VA needs to get a system…one system…other wise more vets will fall victim to the idiotic beurocracy that is the VA System

  27. Gary C Krynicki    

    transfer from DEERS…exactly! I submitted all paperwork after going through divorce: separation agreement, divorce order, military pension division pay order. I was overpaid $4500 over 10 years.
    I couldn’t tell because the check gets deposited to my bank and doesn’t break anything down. There is no ‘pay chart’ to reference to determine what you should be getting. DFAS myPAY clearly shows my ‘ex’ listed on all of my Retiree Account Statements as ‘former spouse’. The statement also indicates her Survivor Benefit Plan coverage as my former spouse. So, I don’t get it, but the VA got their $4500 from me.

  28. Joe adams    

    Gary C. Krynicki I understand your frustration. It took the VA over 5 years, after I submitted and contacted the VA, on what they over paid me due to my ex. I thought it was my fault but in reality I blame VA for their incompetence even though they think they are doing the right thing in telling us how to correct and update. The Customer service and people that are paid to execute this task is not performing their duties and we are penalized for it.

  29. Philippe Johnson    

    What should not be considered an over-payment is receiving concurrent pay (retirement and compensation) when you have always had 60% disability, yet checked box 20 (or 21 as it has changed) on the VA Form 526-EZ. The VA is trying to collect $19,000 from me despite always having 60% disability, because I checked that box on a secondary claim after I had already been receiving compensation after retirement. This is maddening and grossly incompetent. The 526-EZ doesn’t acknowledge the reality of concurrent pay. That box (20 or 21) effectively asks you to choose one of the two payments in lieu of the other, which cannot be done when you’re entitled to concurrent pay. And the remedy according to the VA was to submit the form that explicitly states that you want to receive compensation in lieu of retirement pay. This level of dysfunction has caused me a ridiculous amount of time, effort and financial stress. I’m still trying to resolve it with my regional VA office, while the VA’s Debt Management Collection Center is threatening to stop my compensation payments in October. If this isn’t resolved soon, it will become an issue for my Congressman. I pity veterans who are having serious mental/emotional issues and have to deal with similarly unnecessary aggravation from the VA. Our veterans deserve more competence.

  30. Lon G. Dorsey    

    I don’t think I want VA help. If I have to give money back for some reason, that would be devastating to say the least. If I were dead it would be good.

  31. A White    

    I was hit with 2 overpayment collections on my credit report. My husband was the service member who passed the Post 911 education benefit to me. Just a I was about to graduate, he was let go from service with an OTO. I fulfilled my end of the bargain by completing the requirements of my degree. But, now they are trying to stick me with the bill. If anything, he broke the agreement by getting let go. So, why does this not appear on his credit report and why am I at fault?

    I am appealing this as this is already affecting my credit and future tax refunds. Unbelievable!

  32. Charles Stewart    

    When I got out of the military I received a $2000,00 severance. I was rated a 0% disabled veteran with a disability with no compensation. I finally received 30% in roughly 2010. But I was told I had to pay back the $2000.00. The V.A. attached my check every month and recouped the roughly $2000.00. In 2012 I was bumped up to 80% and received a retroactive amount and was sent a letter AGAIN stating that I would have to pay back the $2,000.I shouldn’t have to pay back, twice. How and who do I contact to recover the $2000.00 I paid the second time. Thanks Charles Stewart.

  33. Charles Stewart    

    When I was rated 0% but considered service connected I was getting medication for my SERVICE CONNECTED disability. I had to pay for the medication since I hadn’t had a decision yet on my claim. When I did get a decision (in my favor, I tried to recoup the $$ I paid for the medication. Why aren’t I able to get back the money I had to pay for the medications which were directly the result of my service connected disability. I wouldn’t have had to pay if I had been rated 50% or more at the time

  34. dionne coleman    

    I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF THERE ARE ANY SOLUTIONS TO THESE PROBLEMS…..
    OTHERWISE I CAN VENT ELSEWHERE!

Comments are closed.